Johnson says he'll be in camp, but probably limited by ankle

Updated: July 22, 2008, 9:27 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Receiver Chad Johnson said he'll report on time for the Cincinnati Bengals' training camp next weekend, but his surgically repaired ankle will probably prevent him from fully participating.

Chad Johnson

I was going through a situation where I felt a change was needed. It didn't work out. Hey, I'm back. Get ready for the show.

-- Chad Johnson

Johnson also said in a phone interview Monday that he wants to move on from his failed attempt to maneuver a trade. He had threatened to sit out the season if he wasn't dealt, but the Bengals refused to trade him, turning down an offer from Washington before the draft in April.

The Pro Bowl receiver tried to repair his relationship with Bengals fans during an interview with The Associated Press, part of a promotion for an NFL video that will be released Tuesday. He's unsure how fans will receive him at the outset.

"People take it in a different context when I say I want out and I'm not happy," Johnson said. "They think, 'He doesn't want to be in Cincinnati anymore, he's dissing us as fans.' It's not like that. I love my fans. I wasn't able to get that point across. They've supported me. They've been good to me, and I've been good to them.

"I was going through a situation where I felt a change was needed. It didn't work out. Hey, I'm back. Get ready for the show," he said.

Johnson showed up for a mandatory minicamp last month but didn't fully participate the first two days because of a sore right ankle. He had surgery to remove bone spurs on June 18. Johnson estimated that he's about 60 percent recovered and won't be able to go at full speed when the Bengals hold their first training camp workout next Monday in Georgetown, Ky.

"It's not where it needs to be," he said. "I can run, but I don't think I'm able to actually get right on the field and go at it. If I came back too early and reinjured myself, it would be a setback."

Johnson repeatedly declined to discuss the issues that led him to lobby for an offseason trade. He stopped talking to local media during a 7-9 season in which his flamboyant actions and a sideline quarrel with quarterback Carson Palmer raised questions about his commitment to the team.

Johnson lobbied for a trade in a series of interviews with out-of-town media in the offseason. He said he'll continue to refuse local interviews when training camp starts.

Some of his teammates, including Palmer, grew weary of Johnson's offseason comments. Johnson doesn't think his relationship with teammates or coach Marvin Lewis has suffered. He said he has sent text messages to Lewis about the frustrations of his ankle rehabilitation. He has also spoken with Palmer.

"I talk to Carson all the time," he said. "I don't have a choice. He's my quarterback."

Johnson is unsure of the reaction he'll get from fans. Many were turned off by his lobbying for a trade -- some even exchanged their Johnson jerseys for minor-league hockey tickets during one local promotion.

Chat Wrap

Chad Johnson stopped by ESPN.com for a chat on Monday. Wrap Insider

Johnson agreed to a long-term deal with the Bengals two years ago. He'll get a $3 million base salary this season and is under contract with the Bengals through 2010. There's a club option for 2011.

"I'm still in Cincinnati," Johnson said. "This is one of those crazy things. I love Cincinnati. I love my fans. I love everything about it. I wasn't happy about certain things -- the business side of it -- and I spoke my mind and that was it.

"A true fan of mine knows what they've got. A true fan of mine sticks with me through thick and thin when things aren't going right. That's what a true fan does. Those that are upset because I spoke my mind? There's not much I can do but apologize," he said.

Johnson agreed to an interview to promote "NFL: In Just One Play," a DVD that includes footage and interviews with NFL playmakers. Johnson hosts the video, which includes a section on his catches and touchdown celebrations. He worked on the NFL-Warner Home Video production while at the Pro Bowl.

The video calls receivers the NFL's rock stars, a description that Johnson likes.

"They've always been flamboyant," Johnson said. "They've always been flashy. It's just something you have to have. When you're playing receiver, you have to have a certain stigma about you. All of us all have different characteristics and personalities, but we're all rock stars."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press